dying bull by picasso 1934. about a third of the right side of this painting is not shown in the photo. for those that have not heard of it, this is a picture of the duck-rabbit illusion in which depending on one’s perspective it represents mostly one or the other animal. this painting has a little bit of that going in the sense of the psychology if not the actual representation of the beast with two backs. the dying bull is from late in the cubist period and is a synthetic rather than an analytical cubist painting.
A recent editorial by Bob Herbert, When Democracy Weakens
While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn’t really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance.
So what we get in this democracy of ours are astounding and increasingly obscene tax breaks and other windfall benefits for the wealthiest, while the bought-and-paid-for politicians hack away at essential public services and the social safety net, saying we can’t afford them. One state after another is reporting that it cannot pay its bills. Public employees across the country are walking the plank by the tens of thousands. Camden, N.J., a stricken city with a serious crime problem, laid off nearly half of its police force. Medicaid, the program that provides health benefits to the poor, is under savage assault from nearly all quarters.
The poor, who are suffering from an all-out depression, are never heard from. In terms of their clout, they might as well not exist.
A couple of readers in comments skipped over the larger point about the decreasing lack of political power and the declining standard of living of the working class – say that half of the U.S. which is at or below the $52k median income level. This response is standard copy and past across the internet on thousands of news sites and blog posts about poverty, How Poor Are America’s Poor? Examining the “Plague” of Poverty in America, Published on August 27, 2007 by Robert Rector
The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
* Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
* Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
* Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
* The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
* Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
* Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
* Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
* Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
As a group, America’s poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels.
This is all true enough. Even though the stats are primarily from a Bush era Census report, they were true at the time they were published. There were signs of the housing bubble in 2005 and had really kicked in by 2006. What has become known as the great recession had not started until 2007. So those stats, because of the lag time in compiling Census data do not adequately cover 2006 until the present. Never the less America’s poor are not as poor as say the garbage pickers in Brazil or a working class family in Pakistan. Desperation among the poor in the U.S. during the Great Recession is not near what is was during the Great Depression. Given the opportunity to immigrate, the poor from those two countries would no doubt fell they had truly arrived in the land of milk and honey. Do not be distracted by this little game played by the conservative copy and past trolls. Why is poverty in the U.S.A. not at the soul crushing levels they were in the 1950s-60s or like Brazil or Pakistan and we do not have nearly the death toll from starvation and disease we had during the Depression because the “war on poverty”, started by Franklin Roosevelt, which became a crusade of the Lyndon Johnson administration has provided bulwarks against poverty. Among those are Social Security which has kept millions of seniors and disabled out of extreme poverty. Federally insured bank deposits have protected consumers against failing banks. Medicare and Medicaid have both helped keep families out of poverty and bankruptcy. Those who have had to care for elderly relatives know what I mean. Johnson era programs such as food assistance, unemployment insurance, student loans and grants, and home heating subsidies among other programs have lifted the poverty level relative to a national standard. In short, the trolls continue to provide evidence that progressive liberal policies work. On the other hand, something the conservative trolls would never mention in their posts is the tread to under value work and reward wealth based, not on the work produced or the intellectual value of ideas – most of which come from scientists and engineers educated at public universities, but to reward wealth as a virtue onto itself. Rich? You deserve more tax breaks to be even richer. It is as though the entire conservative movement and right-wing libertarians have been demoniacally possessed by the Kardashians.
Barbara Newhall Follett was a child prodigy and the Amelia Earhart of literature. Knopf’ published her first book when she was thirteen and her second when she was fourteen. At the age of 26 she walked out on her husband for reasons unknown and was never heard from again, Vanishing Act by Paul Collins. This passage is from Follet’s second book about her journey to Nova Scotia, “The Voyage of the Norman D”
I spoke to the captain first of all, but very vaguely and dreamily, gazing about me—fascinated, enraptured, all the time. I looked at the long, huge booms, with the sails frapped closely round them; at the great, splendid masts; at the many ropes descending over blocks and made fast on belaying pins along the side of the boat; at the double and triple sheet blocks; and, above all, at the ratlines and shrouds, into which I longed to go up. The next minute I had jumped upon the spanker boom and crawled along to the very end, hanging slightly over the water, where I supported myself by one of the wire lifts.
“Oh,” said the captain, “I see you’re a girl as likes to climb around.”
Mary Elizabeth Williams post about director Kevin Smith’s weight lose – Kevin Smith: Skinnier — but not proud, has this comment which I thought was worth pondering,
MEW seems to once again implicitly grant the unexamined assumption in so much of American magical thinking: that self-esteem is the ultimate goal, so rather than seek to earn it, you should build guardposts around wherever you are in life and be proud of that.
It’s profoundly insulting, treating adults like children whose delicate fee-fees might be hurt if they were held to any sort of objective standard. News flash: not all life choices are equal. Some people have earned the right to feel good about themselves. The point of expectations is not simply to lower them to the point where they’re already met.
To paraphrase Louis C.K., I’m not saying that thin people are better. I’m saying that *being thin* is *clearly better*. Better for one’s health, their happiness, their prospects of financial and romantic success, etc. We can quibble all we like about what we consider a ‘healthy body image’, but I can assure you that obesity is by definition bad for you.
If Kevin Smith has lost weight, then that’s brilliant. There is no virtue in poor health choices of any sort, whether they be gorging yourself into obesity or vomiting yourself into bulimia.
Further, being fat is not a victimless crime. They are hurting others besides themselves. I know this because I work in medicine. I cannot tell you the number of medical professionals who have hurt their backs schlepping obese patients onto and off stretchers, how many central lines are inserted into people whose flesh is too fat to accept IVs, how many doors have had to be taken off hinges so that four nurses can strain to push a patient’s bed into the hall, how the time and energy and decency of all the people involved is slowly spent and exhausted because it is they, those whose lives are dedicated to helping others, who are forced to pay the price in body and spirit for the indolence and helplessness and outright selfishness of those who refuse to take care of themselves.
Any why should they? The most important thing is to love yourself, and being fat just means there’s more of you to love, right?
Civility has never been the standard in our political discourse. Nor much of anywhere else either. I saw a video of some European parliamentary member trying to punch another member on Fridays news. Still there is giving in to the occasional binge and then there is being a glutton of incivility, Andrew Breitbart, Barack Obama, CPAC, Code Pink
In his rambling CPAC speech today, Andrew Breitbart described how he has enjoyed going to progressive rallies and peppering the protesters with questions. But, he said, the women of the anti-war group Code Pink are “tedious at this point” because they used to be “kinda slutty lefties,” but “they’re getting long in the tooth.”
“I don’t know why I decided to make my career trying to destroy the institutional left. I thought that would be a fun thing to do,” he said at the opening of his remarks. He described how he’s found that the people in protests “are not individuals. They’ve been community organized.”
“They’re not Americans,” Breitbart said later. “They’re animals.”
This is the same decadent pot-bellied journalist who conspired in the ACORN pimp video hoax and the Shirley Sherrod scandal. Having absorbed exactly zero wisdom from those fiascos, has been peddling too new hoaxes. One about Planned Parenthood and one about discrimination against black southern farmers called the Pigford settlement. So if Breitbart’s political enemies, who he cannot seem to win an honest debate with, are “animals”, I guess that makes Breitbart a virus.